In 2006, the Denver Nuggets rewarded a notoriously one dimensional player in Reggie Evans (when he was the same age as Lee), a contract that earned him 5 million dollars as a 10th man last season. A bit expensive for a 6-8 player who only rebounds the ball, right? Although he has recently fell from the Raptor's grace, at the time he was considered an asset worth nearly half of what our starting power forward is making now. Focusing on the fact that he is a tremendously flawed player in virtually every category besides rebounding, was his exclusive ability reason enough to merit such a respectable contract?
It was painfully illustrated last year how losses correlate to incompetent big men on the glass. Even in the event of when the team picks up their defensive assignments, if the opposing team matches up better in the rebounding battle on a nightly basis, when does good defense begin to matter? How many times did you want to empty your beer on your head after watching 22 seconds of effort on defense, only to see our players miss the collection and still suffer the two points? If you're willing to make a deal to support the same disease of Nellie ball, by bringing in a "superstar scorer", minus a prolific rebounder, then I don't know how you feel about losing.
David Lee and Andris Biedrins will not allow consecutive losses. Consistency rules this out in all likelihood, by extracting logic from a simple and original, golden rule - Dominate the glass, win the game. If you have 2 players at the most crucial rebounding positions on the floor who deliver 10+ pulls a game, for a season, you're playing the percentages in a mighty fine way - An intelligible way. If you're playing a scorer who demands 40 minutes/25-30 shots a night, (while sitting a more efficient and unselfish scorer) you're counting on his demand of the ball + efficiency to fall perfectly into motion with what the rest of the team is trying to get accomplished on offense. Not only does this disrupt team flow and make it more of an individual performance, but you're relying heavily on a player, rather than a team, to win or lose the game for you. You're disallowing your best scorer and decision maker in Stephen Curry, to score and make decisions. This is when rebounding actually becomes less important, comparatively. Because now, regardless of how many possessions you earn, you're still depending on the hot/cold nature of your superstar scorer, tipping the average of touches on offense towards one player, subtracting value from the rebound.
However, you get a couple of very effective rebounders at the 4/5 spots, and then pair them with efficient scorers, teams are looking straight down the barrel of a high caliber pistol for the most of 82 games.
In a sense, David Lee is one of the best offensive players in the league. What good is a Ferrari, if somebody takes away the keys? In a game of sequence, an offensive possession begins with the rebound. David Lee is equally adept at beginning and ending this crucial sequence, consistently. This makes him invaluable as an offensive weapon, in every sense of the word. Right, well what about his defense? He is not a shot blocker. However, he's not a bad defender in the post, as in his footwork, his strength to hold position, his ability to neutralize an opponent's positioning for rebounds, his durability (81 games last year), and lastly, his will to confiscate the ball via the defensive glass.
Naturally, he was unmatched last year playing at center. Personally, I'm amazed he played in 81 games at that position, going up against men who were significantly bigger. This gives me confidence that he will improve his reputation on the defensive end, as he becomes refreshed towards facing more natural opponents.
Remember when Baron signed with the Clippers? Do you remember Monta Ellis' comments? Clearly, Monta was not as open to just coming straight out and saying, "I'm Monta da boss", as he was playing like it was his team, stepping way out of his boundaries to fill that void.
Why didn't he do this when Baron was on the team? Surely, he could have dominated the ball more and passed less when he was scoring at a higher rate? There was nothing left to the subconscious when Baron brought the ball up the court and called out the plays, directing traffic with his finger and glowering over his shoulder at players who fell out of position. The trade for David Lee returns this same dynamic to the Warriors' franchise.
Not only does the improvement of Curry help make roles more apparent, but the extreme reversal of having a player like Randolph who was more likened to a chicken minus a head on the court, to now a star veteran big man, and student of the game in Lee, helps on an even greater level. I've seen Lee get into teammate's faces. He's a confrontational guy as it is, and with the ink still fresh on his contract, and with the status of an all-star, he's unofficially "the Man" amongst the surrounding eyes within the locker room. He's not uncle Cliffy, but at this point, his experience and accomplishments remain unmatched, and that's going to make Curry's transition to leader much simpler. Who will voice objection to both of these players? Coincidentally, they've clearly made strides towards strengthening that unity over the summer.
Team chemistry is born when the team leaders buy into the coach's philosophy, and act on their own as assistants. This was simply not possible with Don Nelson on board, Ellis running the show, and hopes of Randolph quickly maturing and developing into the leader and player David Lee is today. Lee is not Tom Gugliotta, and Anthony Randolph is not Chris Webber. I have yet to see a roster with potential win as many games as a roster with players capable of production. It's obvious what Monta must do to be productive. Would Anthony Randolph's presence on the court provoke this change as greatly as David Lee's? By creating an environment with less to overcome, we are a step closer towards being successful. The AR, Lee trade accomplished this.
Every time Lee touches the ball, Andris Biedrins will not touch the ball. We can agree that with players like Curry and Ellis on the floor at the same time, who also demand touches that will subtract from Lee's, it will often be the case that Andris will not have the ball. What does this mean? We must rely on Biedrins to be extremely effective off the ball. The good news - He already is. To parrot myself, Andris Biedrins is the best complementary center in the league. He accentuates an offensive power forwards production by A) creating possessions through rebounding, thus opportunities for the scoring PF to execute B) He does not take away possessions from the PF C) He his smart and agile enough to set picks on the perimeter, spreading the defense for the PF D) He will catch and finish anything the PF gives him, once he runs into trouble (double-team, namely)
Letter D, invokes a point about David Lee's passing that should not go unnoticed. How many PF's in the league score over 20ppg and are willing passers like Lee? How many of them exist? Lee and Biedrins are a perfect pair. Add Dorell Wright to that mix, and your base of the triangle on the high block is D Wright (point A) and David Lee (point B) with Andris at the point of your triangle under the hoop at point C. You have two lengthy passers on the high block, and a catch and finish center at the goal. This means all three of your front court players are in a natural position to play significantly better off of one another. They just need to come together.
Again, Larry Riley deserves a job. It was his idea to bring Lee and Wright on board, and Biedrins remains a Warrior. I see Riley's vision, and he is truly a basketball mind. Lacob would do well to keep him around. I'd love to see how he evolves the rest of the roster with all the tools he has to work with. Biedrins is an invaluable piece to this franchise and should not be traded until proven otherwise. I truly believe this team will win 44 games or more.